KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 ― Putrajaya should create a fund to help public university students cope with the rise in living costs by giving them monthly allowances, a PAS lawmaker said today.
The lawmaker, Kuala Nerus MP Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali, suggested that each student be given about RM100 monthly, on top of any existing loan or scholarship that they may already be receiving.
“With that value, the amount needed by the government is only RM637.8 million a year ― in fact this value would be less if it's only set aside for students at the undergraduate or diploma level.
“This amount isn't too big if compared to all sorts of ineffective expenditure and wastages by the government which can be seen through the Attorney-General's audit report,” he said, adding that the amount was obtained using the number of university students given in the National Education Framework: Tertiary Education Sector.
He pointed out that these struggling students will be the country’s future leaders and should be helped throughout their tertiary education to enable them to succeed.
“University students are the ones that are fighting (berjihad) to acquire knowledge at higher education institutions and will soon become the leaders of a civilised race and nation.
“As such, those fighting for knowledge rightly deserve to be given assistance with all their affairs and be given assistance with all their life's necessities,” the PAS Syura council said in a statement today.
Mohd Khairuddin further explained that the suggested allocation is entirely feasible given that other sectors like entertainment, sports and culture get millions of ringgit in federal funds.
“If they are willing to give sponsorships in the millions of ringgit for programmes in the form of entertainment, culture or sports, then I am confident and I believe that there will be those willing to give sponsorship to the students that are the country's most important assets in order to achieve bigger rewards alongside Allah s.w.t.,” he said.
Last Friday, Malay daily Harian Metro reported that a psychology major from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia was hospitalised after her intestines were found to have ruptured due to poor eating habits, which she attributed to financial problems that left her just RM30 a week to spend on food and other necessities.
Since then, other students have emerged with similar complaints, relating how they had to stretch limited funds due to increasing living costs.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh on Monday assured that Putrajaya would look into the problem that seems to be faced by public university students in the country.
At the same time, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin dismissed the news about the UKM student as unlikely and urged the public to verify the report first.